Monday, March 05, 2012

The joke is on the Libertarians

In their divorced-from-the-real-world philosophy,  Libertarians hold as the primary principle the sacrosanctness of property rights.  In real life, though, when the billionaire Koch brothers assert their ownership of the libertarian think-tank, the Cato Institute, what happens?  ( The Koch brothers' goal is said to be "to align the institute more closely with the Republican Party… to transform Cato into an “ammo” shop, manufacturing whatever ordnance it takes stop President Obama from getting re-elected next November…")

Here, Prof DeLong tells us, "No libertarians in foxholes":

The Kochs' point of view is simple: since William Niskanen's death the shareholders' agreement says that they own a majority of the shares of Cato, and it is their property with which they can do as they wish. It is hard to see how any true libertarian could possibly disagree, and seek to do anything other than to vindicate the Kochs' liberty interest in what is their property. But…

I count fifteen strongly opposed to the Kochtopus, four of much lesser weight--Erick Erickson, Thomas DiLorenzo, Daniel Foster, and Robert Wenzel--climbing on the gravy train, and three--Arnold Kling, Walter Olson, and Jonah Goldberg--damning themselves to eternally chase the banners in the antechamber of hell as a result of their refusal to take sides.

From my perspective, of course, the delicious irony is that the arguments against the Kochtopus--powerful and convincing arguments--are not libertarian but rather Burkean, communitarian, and social democratic ones, and thus arguments that no true libertarian could ever possibly make...